First Day at Petra
Day 8, June 21 1998, Petra
Last night I didn't sleep until after a while, and I woke up early to the menacing sound of the alarm clock. We turned it off without deliberation and slept some more. This is a holiday, after all! Dennis had to take care of his feet, dutiful as ever, and for this reason it was quite late when we set out for Petra. First, we had some horrible filter coffee at the hotel, which came close to crossing the border of coffee and not coffee.
We decided to just walk the 3 km to Petra. You wouldn't believe how many taxis tried to convince us it was actually 6 or 7 km, or just 'too far to walk', for reasons none too noble.
At Petra we paid the rip-off price of 25 JD for a two day ticket. Nearly all of the building in Petra are carved out in the rock faces. Basically, Petra is a giant valley in a ring of rocks. On one side, tectonic forces have forced a gorge in the rock face a long time ago. The opening is called the Siq.
The walk through the Siq was very impressive. Large rocks hang overhead and there are beautiful structures to be seen. The first building to come into view is the Treasury, famous from the five second scene in Indiana Jones and last Crusade. While the front view was certainly spectacular, the inside was rather boring.
Next, we took the walk towards the Sacrificial sites and the Obelisks, said to have a very beautiful view. We did indeed make some very exciting pictures (check them out) and I indulged in a minor but (in hindsight) rather dangerous climb. At the Obelisk we found a Bedouin tent. No matter to what remote area you may climb, there's always a Bedouin with a donkey and a can of Pepsi waiting. Two ladies who looked like they just came straight from Palm Springs or a Douglas Coupland novel. They were very nice, though and admired the way we walked around. They had taken the donkey themselves, which was much quicker.
In my view, there is nothing more exciting than to stray from the trodden path and so, during our descent, I strayed often and not mildly, much to the despair of Dennis. We passed the Soldiers Tomb, the Garden Tomb and some goats, until we ended up in a Bedouin tent where we ordered some mint tea. They gave us regular tea, even though the waiter, who is probably deaf, careless, lacking in properties such as intelligence, repeated twice after me: "Mint tea".
Also, the spoons were covered in a substance not quite like tea, but rather like the kind of fungus that you get when you let milk go bad for about three weeks. As Dennis drew the waiter's attention to this unhygienic situation, the owner/manager of the tent/café got wind of it and alerted all available staff, who haplessly put on a little show for us in which a young lad was spoken to in a stern manner. We were however spoken kindly to and treated to new tea, which was still not mint tea. The spoons were clean, though. After a few Pepsi's (alas, no Coke, the true mark of civilization) we set out for the Monastery.
At the Monastery, Dennis was approached by a Bedouin riding a donkey, who offered him a Roman coin. Dennis wasn't interested, but just for the hell of it, he tried and got the price down for 5 ˝ JD ($ 7).
We climbed it and took some pictures from the rooftop, which was about 45 m high. Very, very impressive. We walked back with a Jordanian American and his mostly silent brother. Before sunset, we decided to explore an oasis in a nice uncharted Wadi (uncharted because it is submerged in winter). I did see an eight feet waterfall, and a very beautiful stream, but we had to return when it got dark.
We ate at the Red Cave restaurant, an authentic Bedouin restaurant, which supposedly means you get extraordinary small amounts of food for sizable amounts of money, plus some commercial chit-chat about tours in Wadi Rum we did not need at all.
Then we had to haggle with a taxi driver who curiously enough, did not have pupils in his eyes, but instead very big dollar signs; "Who told you 1 JD?", "Everybody."
c l i c k
||© Gerb Internet 1999|